Former NFL tight end Ben Utecht says five concussions during his playing days have led to memory loss at the age of 30.
Utecht had two concussions in college at Minnesota, two in the NFL with the Colts, and one in training camp in 2009 with the Bengals. He never fully recovered from that last one and never played football again.
Now Utecht and his wife have opened up to USA Today about the way memory loss has affected him already, and the fears they have that it could get worse.
“Will I experience early-onset dementia in my 50s? Will I experience more issues with amnesia or headaches or behavioral changes? All of these things are consequences of brain injury,” Utecht said. “I think now that I’m aware of them — especially now that I’m the father of three beautiful little girls — it’s definitely in my heart and on my mind. I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t.”
Utecht isn’t asking for pity about his lot in life — he’s enjoying his family and has a burgeoning music career — but his wife says she’s concerned about things like the way he forgets appointments and blanks on events that he has attended. He says he’s happy with his life as it is but troubled about the possibility that relatively minor memory loss at age 30 is a very bad sign about what his life will be like at 40, 50 or 60.
“I pray I don’t experience these kinds of situations getting worse,” he says. “That’s why music is so important to me. It gives me hope. I take life as it comes, one day at a time.”